by Max Barry

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by Erithaca. . 787 reads.

Please Vote FOR Preventing Desertification- A Defense Against Criticism From around NationStates

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Dear World, I am writing today to exhort you to vote in favour of my GA proposal: Preventing Desertification. In short, it attempts to prevent deserts encroaching on to other land. Desertification is a serious issue that causes famine, drought and extreme poverty. I would like to thank those who have done so, especially Erinor, Aleisyr, Solborg, Vancouvia, Ransium, 124mm10, Xiulens, The former ussr, New Hope Republic, Cawdor east, Courelli, OF Arian Hellas, Odinburgh, Crimsonfield, Bearded Dragones, Giant Redwoods, The greater american midwest, Kronomia, Red HighValley, Kingdom of Bradonia, Apartamento, Christian Democrats and Halcyon Nova, for voting in favour so far.

It is important to note the speed at which it reached quorum, eventually gaining 141 approvals. It worth noting that, at the time of writing, 248 delegates and 2540 individuals have voted in favour, compared to only 126 delegates and 1298 individuals against. I have cooperated with criticism on the forum and the proposal has been called "Legal" by 3 GenSec members. However, there is a legality challenge and I have seen that larger regions are considering voting against. I will defend against the various criticisms of my proposal, source by source, in this dispatch, looking at major regions and the legality challenge.

1- The North Pacific

Their delegate: Siwale, has voted against. For this defence, I will quote forum discussions and the official dispatch by The Northern Light, which is here:

General Assembly Vote Recommendation

Part of the Information for WA Voters program

Resolution at Vote: Preventing Desertification
Vote Recommendation: Against

Resolution Analysis
Preventing Desertification is an attempt to address the damaging consequences of desertification with a call to action on member states to confront the phenomenon within their nation and a grant of authority to the WA Environmental Council to oversee such efforts. We find the measures urged by this proposal both weak and noncompulsory, and the duties granted to the WAEC insufficient to address the magnitude of the issue, thus leaving a proposal that is both fiscally unproductive and blocks stronger potential legislation on the subject. Therefore, the Ministry advises a vote against the proposal.

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Sponsored by the LinkMinistry of World Assembly Affairs of The North Pacific.

Read dispatch

"We find the measures urged by this proposal both weak and noncompulsory, "

In clause 1, there is a compulsory mandate. More compulsory mandates or measures would result in a draconian resolution, controlling the environment and environmental policy of members.

"duties granted to the WAEC insufficient to address the magnitude of the issue"

The duties for the WAEC deal with all of the causes of desertification. I would be able to say more on this topic if you provided some examples of what the WAEC could do.

"is both fiscally unproductive and blocks stronger potential legislation on the subject"

The resolution does not directly involve any economic or fiscal policy. There are only economic benefits to be had from any tackling desertification. I cannot find any part of the resolution which explicitly bans or blocks stronger resolutions coming into force. It would be possible to late extend my urges to mandates.

From the Linkregional forum:

"Against. This seems like powerless micromanaging of a problem that's a lot more multifaceted and complicated than can be reasonably expected for one government agency to consider and deal with all at once. I would say desertification requires an across-the-board delegation of powers to other government organizations to be effectively combatted. It's a noble cause and if there were stronger legislation to come out on it later on, I would consider getting behind it. This just seems like pointless bureaucracy. " -Bobberino

The issue is less complicated than you think. Desertification is a type of land degradation which is caused by a lack of vegitation and overgrazing/ overplanting. The WAEC seems to be more than capable of dealing with these two exclusively environmental issues. It is probably also capable of dealing with water conservation. However, if I do propose this again, I might delegate the tasks in clause 4 to other WA Committees. There are some mandates, meaning that is not "pointless bureaucracy". The problem is that, as a GA writer, I have to appease two opposing sides. One side wants more intervention, like you, and the other wants less. If I were to strengthen this proposal much more, it would be quite draconian, and seriously annoy the other side.

"Against. The resolution first urges action and then seems to suggest that the urged behavior is made mandatory by the WAEC. The message is confusing at best and overly and politically invasive at worst." -Castle Federation

I have urged action to prevent political invasiveness. However, if that action is taken, I feel the need to have it controlled and regulated. Please read the proposal carefully. This mix of active clauses: "urge" and "mandate" are just a facade for what is actually meant, and can easily be seen when one reads what they actually refer to. I have tried to keep the political invasion to a minimum. Any less and the resolution might actually be illlegal- it would acheive nothing! If you are worried about political invasiveness, talk to Christian Democrats. They are a Catholic nation that voted for with an Christian Democrat ideology involving Linksubsidiarity, part of Linkdistributism.

2- The West Pacific

For this defence, I will use the Linkforum thread. Davelands has voted against.


"First some general remarks. The author is quite new. As such this proposal isn't the prettiest formatting-wise and has some flaws in its text and category. In general they seem to listen to feedback. Still this was probably submitted a bit hastily and prematurely. "

I have only been on NationStates since February 2018, so I am quite new. The category flaws are debateable. Araraukar mentioned them in their legality challenge, which I will deal with later. I have chose the Area of Effect as "Agriculture". By discouraging overgrazing/ overplanting, agriculture will be affected. I cannot think of any other industry directly affected by my proposal to the same extent. I am not sure as to how I could improve the formatting, do you have any suggestions? At the time of submission, I felt that suggestions had stopped coming in, but I now realise that I should be a bit more patient. However, during the approvals process, none of the nations of the GA forum asked me to withdraw the proposal.

"The introduction simply presents the topic, which in my eyes, while potentially serious, is only borderline of international interest.
1. is the only binding mandate for member states to observe on their own. There is not much meat to it, all the formulations are pretty general ("reasonable precautions, reasonable regulations, reduce excessive removal ...) and thus could easily be worked around.
2. and 3. use encourages as their verb and thus aren't binding but are reasonable guidelines that serve as optional side dishes to the meat of the main courses (... continuing with the metaphor). "

In the real world, one of the largest international treaties deals with desertification. It is an issue that transcends borders. "reasonable" is a term used in legislation around the world. Due to the efforts also being overseen by the WAEC, it is harder for the regulations to be circumvented. Clause 1 is the "main course"!

"Now 4. is a section that is contested. It sets up WAEC (WA Environmental Council) to oversee and ensure the following provisions. While these points might be generally sensible, setting up an international agency to supervise and enforce them without any other oversight is too much meddling in internal affairs for my taste, especially considering that this was hardly of international concern in the first place and the national mandates are so barebone.
Therefore I'd suggest to vote against this in its current form."

If I do submit this again, I will regulate the WAEC more. However, the WAEC's actions are still defined in clause 4.

"In light of recent public attention, TWP's WA Affairs Ministry decided to reevaluate its assessment of the proposal at hand. We consulted with senior officials of our regional government who added:"

"I'm against it. Deserts can be pretty interesting."

Not when they destroy your livelihood. The bomb on Hiroshima was very interesting from a scientific point of view. The residents didn't think so! I am not advocating the removal of deserts, just preventing them growing.

"TWP worldbuilder determined desertification doesn't exist on the map."

It doesn't exist on your map, but can still exist elsewhere. This seems like a very selfish reason to vote against. The World Assembly is for the whole world.

3- Others
Queen Yuno, Aexnidaral, Imperium Anglorum, The united dark republic and NewTexas are some other notable delegates that have voted against, without an accesible explanation.

4- The Legality Challenge

Now I will look at the legality challenge presented by Araraukar.

We have voted to hear this challenge. Comments from the author would be gratefully appreciated. Particularly as to the justification and reasoning behind the choice of category and area of effect.

I will now provide an explanation. I hope you appreciate it. I would like to apologise for any time wasted by my delay in responding.

Desertification is a process that affects much more than just agricultural industry (this could easily have been written under Health category as well), and I believe it should have been put under All Businesses (which reminds me, the proposal rules thread lacks any mention of the strengths in that AoE) instead. Land is cleared of vegetation for building projects, soil/mineral extraction, which affects manufacturing - the preamble mentions "loss of bodies of water", which presumably would affect fishing industry - and many more, including ecosystem restoration (more of that below).


I have chosen the category: Environmental. Desertification is an environmental issue and, in my mind, does not relate to any other category. The only possible reason that this could be under the health category is famine/drought. These are caused by agricultural problems.

Area Of Affect
I have chosen the area of affect: Agricultural.


When I came to submit the proposal, I did underestimate the importance of Area of Effect and the affect that it could have on legality. However, I stand by my choice.

My reasoning was that desertification largely affects agriculture. Outside of Erithaca, it has caused drought and famine. These are by far the most notable and serious effects of desertification.


It is possible to argue that desertification has an effect on fishing. However, this is a minor effect and would be more unrelated that the current one.
Under your logic, pretty much any proposal should be under "All Business". Nearly every, if not every, environmental proposal would have an effect on other industries. Yet again, I have chosen agriculture because it is the main one.
The loss of bodies of water was intended to refer to drought.

I also question the importance of this section of the challenge. Does the exact area of effect even matter greatly? Your statements are arguable and a legality challenge on category or area of effect seems like a waste of time.

The Secretariat has not been overbearing in its application of the Category Rule. So far, we have embraced a moderate approach that requires rational categorization; and we have rejected the extreme approach of strict categorization, where every single clause would have to fit the category and subcategory.

-- [i]Promoting Research (majority opinion) (8 March 2018)[/i] -Christian Democrats

This goes with what I said earlier. It would be very hard to have a resolution where every clause only had an effect on a specific industry. The effects of any law are usually wide-ranging. I hope that I have demonstrated that my category and area of effect are rational: they do not merit illegality under Christian Democrat's moderate application.


This is the other main section of the legality challenge. I will first comment on Separatist People's response.

I'm conflicted out of a ruling, but I want to point out that my Wetland law wouldn't stop you from destroying a wetland, it would just make you use a separate method of compensation. I'm not going to weigh in on the challenge itself, but I know that wetland law inside and out! -Separatist Peoples

I can see that you have declined weighing in on the category/area of effect issue. I do not understand how my resolution, by preventing the destruction of wetlands, would destroy them. You see the wetland as part of the desert, which it is very much not. A desert wetland is within the desert, but is not a desert in itself. It is also not the kind of thing that speedily encroaches on other land. It would have been helpful to define "desert" and "desertification" in the proposal, which would have prevented this problem from ever arising.

In addition to which it looks like you also wouldn't be allowed to restore original desert areas back to their pristine state for purposes of endangered animal conservation and reintroduction to the wild, but since that's basically just inferred from GA #66, it's more a logical objection than a true contradiction.

This resolution deals with deserts encroaching on areas. I really should have defined "desert" and "desertification".

First Nightmare

Preventing desertification mainly impacts agriculture, Retail, Basket Weaving, and logging.
It is nowhere near All Businesses, unfortunately, because the rest of the industries is not affected, or even affected positively(Fishing)...
which means that this proposal is illegal under every single category.
The only way to make this legal is to split it into 4 different proposals, one for Agriculture, one for Retail, one for Basket Weaving and one for logging.

I agree with you until the end. Frankly, multiple proposals where the only difference was in area of affect would be barmy. It would be nigh on impossible to reach quorum, voting would take weeks and it would be straight up spam: definitely illegal!

Yours hopefully,